Location: AL

Acting My Age

A tradition I’ve been trying to follow, for the last couple of years at least, is to do a ride on or about my birthday, with the number of miles matching or exceeding my age — a “ride your age” ride. With a birthday in late December, this can be a challenge.

This year, with a high of the mid-20s predicts for my b-day tomorrow, and a high in the mid-50’s today, it was an easy decision to roll a day early. With me being just past the half-century mark, and having not done a ride of that length since mid-August, I knew this one was going to be a challenge.

I left Iola just after 10am, with the temperatures in the low 40s. My route took me west across the Neosho River, then south through Petrolia, to Chanute, then back through Humboldt.

No really great photos resulted from the ride, but the following should give you a feel for what it was like:

Neosho River

Whenever I cross the Neosho River, I nearly always have to stop. Love the waterfall.

Sunshine Road

Heading south, the sunshine was warming the day up nicely, but I was going headlong into a 17 MPH south wind.

Grass, Farmland, Trees

Grassland, tilled land, and a treeline made for a nice tableau, with a tree in the foreground standing alone.

Farm Buildings

These farm buildings — a barn, a couple small silos, and what might have been a chicken house — have seen better days.

Hegwald Ridge

I stopped and visited the Hegwald Bridge. I like old bridges, but this one is scheduled for replacement soon. Sad.

Snow Road

Some gravel roads were still snow-covered.

Mud Road

Some gravel roads had recently been snow-covered, but were now a muddy mess.

53 Degrees!

Reaching Chanute, the temperature was 53 degrees. Balmy!

I stopped at a grocery to grab some food and drink, dropped in at the Nu Grille for a burger, and headed on over to Katy Park for an outdoor lunch in the sun.

After pushing against the stiff headwind for 25 miles or so, I was very glad to turn north. Suddenly, what had been a struggle turned into a very sweet ride. Northbound, the miles just flew by!

Monarch Cement Factory

Near Humboldt, I stopped for a shot of the Monarch Cement factory. What an amazingly complex network of equipment. And this is just a very small part of it.

Humboldt Sign

The “Welcome to Humboldt” sign pays homage to two famous sons — baseball hall of famer Walter “Big Train” Johnson, and Negro Leagues star George “Teacher” Sweatt.

Downtown Humboldt

Downtown Humboldt features a great old water tower in the city park. Also visible is the Veterans Memorial, with flags snapping in the wind.

Humboldt Dollar General Bike Rack

Whenever I stop in Humboldt I try to patronize the Dollar General store there. Frankly, it’s not my favorite store, but they’ve installed a nice Saris bike rack, so I try to reward them with my business.

Heading back towards Iola, I decided not to risk rutting up the soggy surface of the Southwind Rail Trail, and instead rode old US-169, now a local two-lane blacktop.

I ended up with almost 53 miles, at an anemic 12.4 MPH average speed. By the end, I was tuckered out. Not sure how many years I can keep this up. Another decade, at least, I’m hoping. I expect I’ll need to be flexible with my timeline though. Some years, I may have to wait weeks, or even months for a day as nice as this one.

Here’s my route, at Strava, for those interested.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

5 Responses to “Acting My Age”

  1. Kenny Foust says:

    Love you collums and having you move to Iola is so interesting to me. Having grown up there and now going back and riding the area is really great for me. Probably been on every paved road within 20 miles and there are a lot of good lightly traveled raods. Rode the new section trail south to Humboldt recently and think it is great.

  2. Brian L. says:

    Fun post with great photos, as usual! Your ride-your-age tradition is great — I need to do that, too, but wish I had started it 20 years ago! ;-)

  3. Bob Lavelle says:

    Great read. Love all the photos, we all too often forget the beauty in the back roads less traveled. All of us need goals and the clock is always ticking. At 62 and a cancer patient for 20 years I always look at temperatures and wind speeds first then mileage. Luck is at least on my side with an early fall birthday.

  4. Emil Walcek says:

    You’ve a great knack for storytelling in pix and words. I noticed you used the cold weather handlebar cycling gloves that are probably a ‘must have’ in your area. I was turned on to reconfigured Tyvek Fedex envelopes to good effect on my mtn bike handlebars for cold north ga single track rides.
    But am curious about your fender-less rig. Freeze-thaw has got to reduce many non-paved roads to mush (as you described). Care to share your rationale?

  5. Randy Rasa says:

    Eric, those are Bar Mitts. They were definitely overkill for a 50-degree ride, but I was lazy to take them off, since they do work pretty well for keeping hands warm in colder weather. My first year using them.

    The route was probably 90% paved, but yes, I had a bit of a mess to clean up after the ride. I probably should have ridden my Long Haul Trucker, which is fully fendered. I have never set up the old 10-speed Puch with mudguards.